Note to all: This piece is written in humour, take it as such.
This is what happens when you spread your culture.
This poor fella in the video below is trying so hard to sound like the American ‘icons’ he’s watched. At over 7 million hits, I’m not sure i he feels he’s a success or even knows that so many are pitying him. Fortunately, some of us have been able to find comic relief in what could very well be a copy-cat disaster. It’s painful, pathetic and hilarious all at once. If you’re American, you might be moved to comment as one American commenter did, ‘… . My God, what have we done!’ Continue reading
When my new neighbours across moved in, I got a little more than just new neighbours. I got some visitors too, the unwanted type. Short ugly creatures, you know. The kind that would survive a nuclear holocaust. Who knows, maybe even a zombie apocalypse. Should we be invaded by zombies, these creatures would probably move in with them. They have a lot in common, all that ugly to start with.
Wait for it, drum rolls please…
There have been roach sightings in my flat ever since my lovely new neighbours came around. Roaches, in my house! I’m pretty certain there were none prior. And then, voila – new neighbours, roach sightings.
Drum rolls off please, you may now boo and eew.
And I’ll sing along with you. I absolutely abhor the creatures. Because of them, I’m a compulsive insecticide-sprayer. Every room in my flat has a can of Mortein Doom Fast Kill. Sounds effective, huh? It promises to ‘kill cockroaches and the eggs they carry.’ It doesn’t get much better than that in roach termination.
Nightmares sometimes come true too, you know. I had never thought about it until I decided to take a trip to New Delhi over a year ago. I was working in Ahmedabad and thought I should tour a bit of the rest of India. A lovely friend at work got me in touch with a friend of hers in New Delhi, who agreed to book me a room in a student hostel so that I would find my accomodation waiting for me. At this point you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with my neighbours and their roaches. Just hang in there for a bit longer, the end is nigh.
So I get to New Delhi, and eventually to the hostel, unfortunately at night. Un-huh. This room was like an anthill full of ants only this time they were bigger. Yes, roaches. Hoards and hoards of them. They were everywhere. What’s more, the roaches in Delhi did not scurry when they saw you coming. They just went about minding their own business, and you had to get out of their way. The shower, the toilet, the bed, they were everywhere, and I had no where else to spend the night. It was a nightmare.
Suffice it to say, I managed to stand on one foot in the shower and take what should be known as the shortest shower ever, in history. Let’s not even discuss how I managed to pee. Continue reading
Omwaana kyatamanyi tekimukabya – A child cannot cry for what (s)he does not know.
If I didn’t know of the existence of chocolate I would not hanker after it. If I didn’t know of hot baths I would gladly submit to ice-cold showers on rainy days and if I had never heard of Paris I would not be so set on going there someday. You get the picture, and what that Luganda proverb is all about. That proverb (and it’s equivalents in all other languages of the world) may not be completely true. We’ve all felt that feeling of longing for something more, even when you can’t put a finger to exactly what it is that’s lacking, what it is that will make you feel whole. And then when, eventually, you happen upon it you know that THAT is exactly what you needed to make you, or a moment, complete.
We are supposed to feel lucky that our homes, offices, etc. are electrified. Electricity makes lives easy, interesting, liveable. It runs everything, it runs my life. Just half an hour with the power cut is enough to drive me nuts. That so many people in parts of this country only see a lit bulb when they visit family in urban areas is no consolation to me. I’m in the city, it’s the 21st century, I pay taxes, why, oh why have I no power in my home 24/7? I’m a child that has seen and knows electricity and I’m howling and wailing – not just crying – for this electricity. I want my electricity on all the time. I want the switches in my home to glow red every time I flick them on. God forbid that my laptop battery should run out when the power ids off!
In this city you schedule events and dates according to Umeme’s¹ load-shedding² time table. When a friend calls and wants to meet up, mentally you go, “Wait, let me see… we had power Sunday night and Monday during the day, so there’ll be a power cut Monday night and Tuesday daytime…. ” then out loud: “Okay, I can do Monday night or Tuesday daytime… Wednesday night is also good.” The key thing is to make sure you’re not at home when the big cut comes, when all goes totally dark every where and you have 3 choices: 1) Light candles and play about with your phone till you either fall asleep or power returns, 2) Go online/ watch a movie and use up whatever is left of your laptop’s battery then resort to no. 1 above, 3) Just call it an early night and crawl into bed. The best plan of all is to have ‘plot’ when the power gets cut – have somewhere to go, someone to meet, something to do outside the house.
I used to schedule my dates with the mister (let’s call him G) to sync with these power cuts, some times. Guy and Mary, friends of mine, have admitted they never leave home when the power is on. That’s time for watching all your tv series on DVD in marathon style, sunrise to sunset. Everything that needs to be done away from home is grouped and scheduled for a power-off day. Nothing is worse than a Sunday afternoon power cut. Sunday is stay home and watch a movie /feel lazy day. It gets unbearable without power, and it happens more often than you can imagine.
Some nights G would come over to my place and a while later, zap! It would suddenly go dark. I always hated it when that happened. Eating under candle light is not as romantic as it’s cut out to be. At least not in this part of Africa. Also, I like looking people in the eye when I talk to them, and watching their faces. When I talked to G, I liked watching his face. And not just that, I’m a body language freak. A twitch of the eye lid, a blink, a certain look in the eye, hesitation, … I’m always watching for what people are actually saying that they don’t put into words. Sometimes the most important things are those that go unspoken. So you can imagine, talking to anyone – and least of all a boyfriend – in the dark is one of my least favourite things. There are these phones with a torch application, that are popular here for that very reason, the torch. My grandmother jokingly boasts about how hers lights better than mine. It actually does, I had to admit, grudgingly.
Well, this little phone comes in handy in a power cut. And talking to G, I would find myself shining it in his face as he we talked. Not always intentionally, I just found myself doing it, ’cause well, you want to look at someone when you’re talking to them, right? He hated it. And that’s an understatement. He would scowl, and frown, go ‘Why do you have to do that?’ and I’d say sorry but find myself doing it again. A flashlight direct in one’s face is obviously uncomfortable, I know that too. Pillow talk in the time of power cuts would then get a wee bit… weird. Talk, flashlight in the face, scowl, growl, apology, darkness, talk, flashlight, scowl, growl, sigh… goodnight, let’s talk tomorrow. Honestly, though, pillow talk with G wasn’t always like that. Pillow talk with G was kinda like G… sweet, gentle and loving.
Talking in the dark is not actually that difficult, especially if you’re not at table but in bed, talking about not-so serious matters, being held and cuddling and generally talking as lovers do. Lovers talk in the dark all the time. It’s been said, “…in th intimacy of the darkness…” The darkness can be real intimate, we all know how, I only wish it wasn’t forced on me as often as it is. Some claim these power cuts are going to bring on a massive population expansion, what with people getting to go to bed earlier more often. More than half Uganda’s population are youth. If power cuts = more copulation = increase in population, then things aren’t looking so good for motherland beloved.
¹ The body in charge of electricity distribution.
² The term used to refer to sharing/distributing electricity across the country. The watts generated are way fewer than what the nation needs, so at any given time some areas are taken off the grid and have no power supply while others are supplied. Distribution is rotated, places take turns at being on or off the supply grid.
I once told someone I forgive but I don’t forget. Understably shocked, this person said okay, that’s scary. And it was. I very obviously had a very loose grasp on the concept of forgiveness at the time, and very long afterwards.
These past three days things have been happening that I firmly believe are far from coincidence. Sunday morning before reading or even opening my devotional, while leafing through my bible I somehow stopped and read the book of Jonah. Yes, I and the whole world know the story and how he got trapped in the big fish, still I stopped to read it. Then a few minutes later when I started reading the devotional, one of the day’s bible readings happened to be from Jonah. Hmm, coincidence? Maybe. Well, that very night while watching TV and flipping through the channels I momentarily stopped to listen to a televangelist speak. And guess what he started talking about some minutes after I had tuned in? Continue reading
I haven’t written in a long time. A week only, yes, but for me that’s unreasonably long. Usually, I may go a day or two without writing and then, some days, I will find myself posting two, three new posts at once. I have concluded it must have something to do with how my mind wanders from tree top to tree top, making occasional stops in valleys and along slopes.
I’ve been under some duress that somehow inhibited the usual flow of words from my brain through to my finger tips and finally onto my pages, here. When that happens I usually find myself with several drafts, half-stories, that end up staying in the drafts folder until my spirits are up again, high enough to feel up to some interaction. And even then, my mind still wanders. And wonders. And wanders.
Take for example, this morning as I prepared for my morning shower, some excerpts.
There wasn’t much hot water in there last night, I better switch on that heater. In the meantime I’ll brush my teeth.Wait, why don’t I first do my facial wash routine? As I brush, the facial wash will be doing it’s magic then I can wash it off later. Yeah, of course, as usual.
I’ve got to go to the drug authority today, then call those pharmacy managers, then… what else?
You know, what if there’s a power cut later today, perhaps I should leave the heater on a little longer, that way there will be enough hot water even after I shower. I should get back to my blog, have lots to write about. I should take the laptop out and power it, such that when I’m done here it’ll be good and ready and off we shall go writing.
I finish brushing, put up my toothbrush and walk out of the bathroom, head to the bedroom to pick the said laptop. Inside, a song is playing on the radio. Reggae tone, dance-hall beats. These guys are wailing about the cunning of today’s city girl. Tough love, it’s a tough city. Everyone’s scheming. What, you couldn’t beat them so you joined them? Great move, Mr. Musician. Enter yours truly.
Wooh! I really love this song!
I start dancing.
Their song doesn’t have much lyrical value but I have to agree that the storyline is quite funny. I just love these beats! My God, I haven’t really danced in a long time. Not even at Grace’s party. Still mad about that, I threw that do, THAT was my big chance to dance like crazy! Well, there is always next time. There is also NOW. Continue reading
The politicians are at it again. Their same old self-serving agendas. They have us stuck in our houses and close to home, for fear of venturing out lest we are struck by a stray bullet or end up having to swim blind through a sea and clouds of eye-scalding tear gas.
We run around terrified, scared for our lives, our property and the lives of our loved ones while they, in their chicanery lead us as they will, dragging us to places we don’t want to go and leaving us hanging once they’ve achieved their goals.
The ‘Walk to Work’ is, on the surface, a great idea. Some activists and politicians (the opposition) come out and speak out against what’s on the heart of every citizen, the injustices going on that the government doesn’t seem to be doing enough about; then encourage people to ‘walk to work’ every morning by way of protest. Continue reading
It looks so weird. No, not the poodle, the neighbours and their poodle. Complete with leash, all that the picture needed to make it complete were a jumper and little pink dog shoes borrowed from Paris Hilton’s poodle. Yesterday but one I saw them walking it, it’s little feet were muddy from the downpour earlier in the day. Then, again, later in the day they walked it some more. It is obvious from the way my neighbours were walking that felt they were onto something novel.
I’m sure you can understand my taking out a second to be surprised at my neighbours and their poodle; without looking it, of course. I’m quite good at looking un-impressed and un-moved. I could agree with them that it’s all a little novel but I wasn’t about to tell them. Of course we’ve all seen it on TV and all. Still, Ugandans walking poodles in Uganda is as rare a sight as a North Korean giving a South Korean a big, warm, brotherly hug.
Two days ago, on a work trip, I forgot the key to my bedroom hundreds of kilometres and too long a bus ride away. I was able to retrieve it today (thank God!), but it’s been a nightmare. Friends had all sorts of advice, from pragmatic to downright hilarious: hit the couch; find the difference between the rock and the hard place, the results are the same; to the idea that I must have enjoyed sharing someone’s bed in my predicament. Ha ha, I wish! Were that to be the case I would have had absolutely no complaints.
Well, here’s how to survive being a prisoner in your own house (which is what I was), without ending up in a psyche ward for a day or two. Continue reading
Last Friday had me all dressed up, with no where to go. Yet again. A couple of friends will be leaving soon to go abroad for their Masters and I’m in the process of saying my goodbyes. So I made an appointment with one of them for 3 pm, then set about doing my work. Only to have the sky start darkening in worrying degrees. Rain. Again! I managed to get ready and leave the house before it could start, but I hadn’t got very far when it had me scurrying back to the safety of my house.
There was a time when I had no patience for rain and how it just ruins all plans, making one a prisoner wherever they happen to be when the skies open. Well, two incidents – one after the other – changed that. We went without any rain for about a month. Now in this part of the country, that’s unheard of. The heat was unbearable, and the dust everywhere quite something else! It lay in cakes on everything from roof tops to furniture, and had everyone sneezing. That was January, but even during the dry season rain is always expected now and then. It makes a number of Kampala’s roads and streets un-usable but atleast the dust settles, and the heat gives everyone a much needed break. To say nothing for its much needed use in plant growth, et cetera. Plus I had grown quite tired of the amount of dusting I had to do in my house everyday, let alone having to scrub the balcony over and over!
Incident number 2 happened far away from home. I left for India and it happened to be summer when I got there. Now you haven’t experienced heat, perspiration and discomfort until you’ve experienced an Indian summer! To say that it was hot is like saying the Arctic circle has a mildly cool climate. I was pretty sure the sun built its house, and had all its daughters in India. I did not see the rain for very close to four months in the state I visited, till 3rd June when the skies let loose and it rained cats, dogs, monkeys, and all other small mammals that could possibly rain. I was on my way to church because it happened to be Martyr’s day and I wondered if that had anything to do with it. I had been assured I wouldn’t see any rain the entire summer and I simply couldn’t believe it. I dared not. I was thinking what? Not a drop? In a whole quarter of a year? How do they survive here! And I looked forward to the day it would rain with more than all my heart.
You’re probably thinking she must be mad, it’s just rain! Well, you would be forgiven for thinking so. But hold that thought until you’ve experienced an Indian summer, and have to spend the day time of your weekend hibernating away somewhere indoors, waiting till the sun can go down. When the first drops fell, It was such a thrilling feeling. Yes, thrilling. Yeah, me too, I never thought rain could make me feel that way. I even took some pictures and a video, just to capture those very first drops. In my defense at this slightly crazed reaction allow me to say I was very, very homesick.
Looking back though, I now remember how we all looked forward to the rain that very dry January that was Incident 1. Every now and then a friend on facebook would report something like ‘It’s about to rain over here. Yay!’ Only to have the same friend later report ‘Oh, well it didn’t rain afterall’ or have someone else comment on the post to say ‘Where’s that rain you were talking about, I’m in the same place and ther isn’t a drop of rain’. Happened to me once, too. Everyone was in the mood for a down-pour, and the joy when it finally came!
So, believe me when I say I have a new respect for rain and all it’s incoveniences. So when I’m all dressed up, and just stepped out of the door to be on my merry way, only to have a sudden down-pour send me running back to the shelter of my house like it did on Friday, I do so with calm and not a single unkind word to the rain. I take shelter and wait for it to finish it’s work here and be on it’s merry way to bless some other folks then set out on my own merry way. I respect it. I can actually say I love it. Enough not to complain anymore that I only wished it rained only late in the night to avoid upsetting anyone’s plans.
I only worry when it comes round when I’m wearing a sensitive pair of shoes that will need extra looking after (and hence cash) after the rain, and when it finds me without any warming gear. I also feel for the landslide victims everytime it rains in torrents. I just wish they would allow to be resettled elsewhere away from the mountains for the sake of their own lives! Well, other than all that I’m friends with the rain. Even when it has me all dolled up with nowhere to go. Someone should really get that set of wheels real soon!
PS:The Eclectic LadyBird is happy to report she’s since got that set of wheels, thank God!